Sen. Capito: Broadband Should Be Key Infrastructure Priority

The president-elect has pledged a trillion-dollar infrastructure makeover. Broadband buildout backers want to make sure that's a priority of that effort.

In a letter to Donald Trump, Sen. Shelley Capito (R-W. Va.) asked that broadband deployment be a "core component." Capito pointed out that as many as 74% of the residents of her state lack what she called "proper access" to broadband services.

Capito pointed to an FCC study that found that 56% of West Virginia resident don't have access to broadband services that meet its benchmark speeds; that number is as high as 74% in rural parts of the state.

“West Virginia needs to grow and diversify its overall economy, and Iinternet access is fundamental to that transition," Capito said. "It is essential that all communities have access to Internet platforms that will help them connect and compete on a global scale. Small, rural communities across my state lack this fundamental infrastructure – and lack access to vital opportunities as a result."

Capito suggested that deregulation and increased accountability were the way to go, including "reducing barriers to investment in infrastructure, streamlining the regulatory environment for wireless providers, encouraging public-private partnerships, and ensuring accountability on behalf of the taxpayer for federally funded projects."

Asked about Capito's request on a press call with the Trump transition team Monday, a Trump transition team spokesperson did not talk specifics, but told Multichannel News that "broadband is obviously very important, and I would assume that that will be something that the president-elect will be addressing as we start talking about the nation's infrastructure needs after he is sworn in next month."

The spokesman, calling it the "social media stat of the day," pointed out that the president-elect's Facebook posts from the Army-Navy game resulted in more than 1 million likes.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.